Frequently Asked Questions


Do you offer an initial consultation?

Yes. It's important that you get a chance to ask any questions you might have. Similarly, I'm not looking to work with anyone who can fog a mirror. The consultation gives us a chance to see if I can help you, if you'd be a good fit for Aspera's investment process and philosophy, or if taking you on as a client would, in any way, increase the chance that I'll eventually be prescribed anti-psychotic meds.

Do I have to live locally to be a client?

No. I actually don't have many face-to-face meetings. Most communication can efficiently be handled with emails, phone calls, and video calls, so you can live anywhere that at least has dial-up modem capabilities or access to free Starbucks WiFi.

What is a fiduciary? Are you one?

A fiduciary has a legal responsibility to put his or her clients’ best interests first. You'd think every financial adviser would be a fiduciary, but you'd be mistaken. Why aren't they all? I don't know. Seems ridiculous. And, yes, I am a fiduciary.

Where did the name "Aspera" come from?

I love this question. Most people think it's a variation of the word "aspire" or "aspiration," and that would make perfect sense. However, the real story is that I wanted the business to be named after my dog because she was cool, and she possessed the qualities I wanted my business to have - intelligence, loyalty, patience, trust, and an iron stomach. Her name, however, was "Stormy." I'm no marketing genius, but I did recognize that "Stormy Financial" was right up there with "Shipwreck Capital," "Annihilation Asset Management," and "Famine Investments." My three years of high school Latin finally paid off when I eventually recalled the phrase "ad astra per aspera," which translates to "through hardships to the stars." Much better. Stormy is one translation of the latin word "aspera." So yes, technically, we are Stormy Financial but with much better connotations!

Investment Management

What is your fee? Do I need a minimum account size (in dollars) to be a client?

I'm compensated primarily as a percent of assets managed. That percent is negotiable but tends to be 1.00% in most cases. For example, if I'm managing $500,000 for you, the annual fee would be $5,000. Technically, there isn't a minimum account size required, but there is a minimum annual fee of $1,500. I won't take on a new client if my fee is too high as a percentage of the portfolio (2.00% max) unless I'm also advising on non-managed assets. You should be talking to multiple advisers, and you need to be very clear on what you're paying since this can dramatically impact your returns. See, I"m already looking out for you.

Where are my funds (money/account) kept?

Your funds/money are in your own account/s in your name at your broker/custodian (ie. Schwab, Ameritrade, Fidelity, etc.). At no time do I have custody of your funds or any ability to add or remove money from your accounts. You are at no risk of unknowingly funding my daughter's college education (though I am accepting sponsorship deals).

Do I have a say in what securities are in my account?

I have full discretion over trading decisions. I might make minor exceptions if you feel strongly about avoiding companies controlled by tyrannical, arms-dealing drug lords, but let's keep the requests to a minimum. I don't ask for permission before buying or selling securities. It's imperative that I can structure and alter client portfolios in a timely manner as I best see fit if I'm to do my job well. If you're not comfortable with this...why are you looking for an investment adviser? Just go buy a basket of ETFs and get back to Netflix. For clients who wish to manage a portion of their assets themselves, those funds can be placed in a separate account and managed separately by the client.

Am I locked into a contract?

What's with everyone having commitment issues? I hope to only work with people who can take a long-term view when it comes to their portfolio. Performance really should be evaluated over a full market cycle. Nevertheless, no one is locked into a contract. You can skedaddle at any time if you find a more charming (I'm setting the bar low for you) adviser who you connect with on a deeper level...or for any other reason.

Financial Planning

What do you charge for financial planning?

Financial planning advice is included for my investment management clients. In other words, if you're paying me to manage your investment account/s, there is no extra cost for any financial planning help you might need. When it comes to financial planning, most people have a good handle on some aspects of their financial life but need some advice on others. They really need targeted planning help on one or a few financial topics. This is often best handled on an hourly basis. My fee is $250 an hour with a $750 minimum. I'll provide a quote based on your situation following our first phone call.

What areas of financial planning do you help with?

I help my clients with just about any finance-related issues they have, but I don't have a cookie-cutter approach to financial advice. Everyone's needs, goals, and financial circumstances are different. Some issues may require detailed analysis while others require a thorough review. We'll talk about your specific needs and whether I can help during our first phone call.